“The Stratification of Cyberspace: from Experience to Waste” – Dr. Arun Saldanha (University of Minnesota)
Taking cue from Félix Guattari’s writings on the schizoid role of computerization in consumer and finance capitalism, Arun will make some inroads into thinking how ever-more immersive and intrusive information technology becomes reterritorialized onto the familiar axes of differences of global modernity, especially class, race, sexuality, nationality, and disability. Phenomenology’s conceptualization of experience has never been adequate to capture the corporeal processes which happen when humans interrelate with each other, with things, and with their surroundings. The heterogeneous, and potentially violent nature of embodiment in Deleuze and Guattari – inspired by both Nietzsche and Freud to expose the non-intentional, infra-human drives spurring experience – is a far better framework suited to study modern society than the traditional concept of “experience” allows. More specifically, Deleuze and Guattari can help map the profound alterations to human embodiment which postwar electronic technologies have made possible. But unlike in the neoliberal and Promethean fantasy of an unsexed and unraced cyborg, the imbrication of real bodies in data clouds and robotized milieus are sites for the strongly desirous, and ever-accelerating, reproduction of society’s molar identity-diagrams. Arun will use some examples to demonstrate such stratification within cyberspace, the realm usually thought of as quintessentially weightless, including the facialization of Internet users in social media and gaming, the environmental injustices surrounding electronics manufacture and disposal, and financialization’s efforts to enclose new value creation online. Preferring Guattari to more heavy-handed critiques of technology’s alienating force, he will end with pointing out some propensities for politicizing cyber-affects towards more revolutionary modes of ecological perception.
Arun Saldanha is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography, Environment, and Society at the University of Minnesota and NWO Visiting Professor at Utrecht University’s Institute for Cultural Inquiry. He is author of Psychedelic White: Goa Trance and the Viscosity of Race (Minnesota University Press, 2007) and Space After Deleuze (Bloomsbury, 2017), and co-editor with Hoon Song of Sexual Difference Between Psychoanalysis and Vitalism (Routledge, 2013), with Rachel Slocum of Geographies of Race and Food: Fields Bodies Markets (Ashgate, 2013), with Jason Michael Adams of Deleuze and Race (Edinburgh University Press, 2013) and with Hannah Stark of the Deleuze Studies special issue “A New Earth: Deleuze and Guattari in the Anthropocene” (Edinburgh University Press, 2016). He is working on a theoretical book on the materialities of race and the edited collection Prince from Minneapolis.